SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif.--Ireland's Conor Swail won the $15,000 CSI2* Welcome on Wednesday, May 10 at the San Juan Capistrano International CSIO5* competition that features the all important Nations Cup on Sunday, May 14.
Swail rode Gamble to beat a field of 46 entries to start the first week of international competition.
As the second entry to go on the Oaks International Grand Prix Field, Swail led the class nearly beginning to end.
He finished the two-phase course, designed by Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios, in what would prove to be a winning time of 27.24 seconds.
Coming quite close to catching Swail was Kyle King on Cerolino, who finished in a time of 27.34 seconds.
Alexis Sokolov on Fasole du Seigneur was third in a time of 27.82 seconds.
“We had a good round today; I was very pleased with Gamble,” said Swail. “Gamble and I have been together now for three or four years. He’s a very good, competitive 1.50m horse and higher. He’s just come back from three months off. He didn’t jump all winter, so it’s actually really nice now. I’m very happy with how he feels. He’s competitive, and he always gives his all, so as you can see today, it worked out great for me.”
THIS WEEK is Swail’s first time competing at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park – home to the San Juan Capistrano International and more than a dozen other competitions.
Swail made the trip to San Juan Capistrano with his priorities set on representing the Irish team well in Sunday’s CHF250,000 (about $279,000) CSIO5* FEI Jumping Nations Cup USA.
“The Nations Cup is very important,” said Swail, who is currently ranked eighth in the world Rankings.
“I have Nadal Hero here; he’s one of my younger top horses that’s just done a few 5* last year and finished up very well toward the end of the year,” said Swail of his mount for Sunday’s team event. “Then I have Count Me In that I’m planning to do in the grand prix on Friday. I have some good horses here, and I’m really hoping to have a good week. So far, it’s been lovely. This grass arena jumped lovely there today. The footing seems good. There’s a good cover of grass on it; I think it’ll stop it from getting too hard. There’s plenty of space. I must say, it’s a very nice facility.”
Competition at the San Juan Capistrano International CSIO5* continues through Sunday, with the highlight events including Friday’s CHF (Swiss franc) 200,000 CSIO5* Grand Prix, Saturday’s $77,300 CSI2* San Juan Capistrano International Grand Prix and Sunday’s grand finale CHF250,000 CSIO5* FEI Jumping Nations Cup USA.
This Nations Cup is the second of the Nation Cup competitions that will determine the two North American teams that qualify for the Barcelona Nations Cup Final in September.
The U.S. is not yet qualified for next summer's Paris Olympics, and Barcelona is one of only two chances for the U.S. to gain that qualification.